fighting spam and scams on the Internet
"419" Scam – Advance Fee / Fake Lottery Scam
The so-called "419" scam is a type of fraud dominated by criminals from Nigeria and other countries in Africa. Victims of the scam are promised a large amount of money, such as a lottery prize, inheritance, money sitting in some bank account, etc.
Victims never receive this non-existent fortune but are tricked into sending their money to the criminals, who remain anonymous. They hide their real identity and location by using fake names and fake postal addresses as well as communicating via anonymous free email accounts and mobile phones.
Keep in mind that scammers DO NOT use their real names when defrauding people.
The criminals either abuse names of real people or companies or invent names or addresses.
Any real people or companies mentioned below have NO CONNECTION to the scammers!
Read more about such scams here or in our 419 FAQ. Use the Scam-O-Matic to verify suspect emails.
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Some comments by the Scam-O-Matic about the following email:
- This email uses a separate reply address that is different from the sender address. Spammers use this to get replies even when the original spam sending accounts have been shut down. Also, sometimes the sender addresses are legitimate looking but fake and only the reply address is actually an email account controlled by the scammers.
- The following phrases in this message should put you on alert:
- "dear sir/madam" (a standard Nigerian greeting phrase)
- "western union" (this will cost you money - be careful with upfront payments to anyone you only know through email, especially if they promise you a lot of money. NEVER send money by Western Union or MoneyGram to people you do not know personally - NO EXCEPTIONS! Instant wire transfer services are not meant to be used with strangers because they offer no protection against fraud. That is precisely why the criminals want you send money that way. )
- "moneygram" (this will cost you money - be careful with upfront payments to anyone you only know through email, especially if they promise you a lot of money. NEVER send money by Western Union or MoneyGram to people you do not know personally - NO EXCEPTIONS! Instant wire transfer services are not meant to be used with strangers because they offer no protection against fraud. That is precisely why the criminals want you send money that way. )
- "abidjan" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- "abuja" (a location commonly mentioned in 419 scams)
- "email@example.com" (this email address has been used in a known scam)
- "firstname.lastname@example.org" (this email address has been used in a known scam)
- This email message is a 419 scam. Please see our 419 FAQ for more details on such scams.
- Western Union money transfer is completely untraceable and therefore is *not* safe to use with anyone you do not know personally. It is the preferred method of online criminals to collect money from their victims.
- MoneyGram money transfer is completely untraceable and therefore is *not* safe to use with anyone you do not know personally. Along with Western Union it is a preferred method of online criminals to collect money from their victims.
Fraud email example:
From: "MFA" (may be fake)
Date: Thu, 23 Jun 2011 15:10:48 +0700
Subject: Nigeria Breaking News
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Federal Republic of Nigeria
off Abidjan Street
Wuse Zone 3,
P.M.B. 130, Garki
Our Ref: FGN/MFA/CitiBank/2011 (1/1)
The Federal Government has allocated $50.000 each for every scam victims for monetary loss and damages.
The compensation funds were deposited at Citibank Nigeria Limited (CN) by the Federal Government of Nigeria in care of Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to compensate every scam victims and the transfer will be handled by Citibank Nigeria Limited (Citi Nigeria) as instructed by the Federal Government of Nigeria so you do not need to pay any transfer fee and the funds have also been insured to avoid unnecessary deductions.
If truly you have been scammed you are required to send your NAME and ADDRESS to Citibank Nigeria Limited for verification and after verification if truly you have sent money to Nigeria in the course of getting those huge funds they are promising you that means you have been scammed because you will surely not get them.
***The means of verification is via Western Union and MoneyGram, if truly you have sent money to Nigeria your name will be in their database***
Send your NAME and ADDRESS for verification to any of the two (2) email addresses listed below set up by Citibank Nigeria Limited (CN) for this compensation purpose only:
Please do not respond to email which asks you to send your username and password for any reason and also take note that we have never held any scam victims compensation program in Nigeria. This is the First-Of-Its-Kind. Do not be deceived!
Mrs. Emmanuela Olamide
(Public Relations Officer)
Oversea Communication Department
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Nigeria.
We sincerely apologies for all the damages you must have gone through in the hand of Nigerian fraudsters. We are Projecting favorably the image of the government and people of Nigeria locally and internationally through a proactive mechanism (in line with global best practices) of informing, enlightening and educating Nigerians and the International Community about Nigeria.